Jeff’s Past: New (and Heavy) Media in the 1970s

Sage Computer Monitor from the 1970s

As I look back, I was at the very beginning of where we all find ourselves now. Thanks to one my professor, Mits Kataoka, I experimented with video, using one of the first “portable” video recorders: the Akai Portapak (which was heavy and cumbersome as hell by today’s standards). And I took the very first computer graphics class ever taught at UCLA with filmmaker John Whitney, Sr.

The class was held in the Engineering Department and the classroom looked like a airport control tower with huge round vector graphic screens (similar to the SAGE computer above). Nothing ever worked and I was frustrated for years with these early experiments in the digital (finally to return twelve years later when I got the very first Macintosh).

Despite these roadblocks of early digital technology, I was experimenting and learning to think critically. It was uncharted territory for me; I was often scared I’d run out of ideas. It was only years later I found out the truth. This was the seed of my present.

Lost in Jeff’s Past? Here’s a road map.

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